Team made up of students from ASU, NAU and Embry-Riddle make it to top 8 at SpaceX
Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.
HAWTHORNE, California — AZLoop — a team made up of students from Arizona State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Northern Arizona University — finished in the top eight out of 35 teams this weekend at the second hyperloopHyperloop is a new form of proposed mass transit that promises to hit speeds of up to 750 mph. competition sponsored by SpaceX.
The winner was the German WARR team, with a top speed of 201 miles per hour.
“Our team did extremely well while we were here,” AZLoop team co-lead Lynne Nethken said. “We succeeded with flying colors through all of the functional tests. ... The fact that we came in as a new team and we competed neck and neck and came out with the same amount of points as these teams who built last year is pretty incredible.”
The AZLoop team ended up with a total of 88 points, tying with the top teams running at the competition, all of whom had pods in competition last year.
With the knowledge their pod is able to compete at the highest levels, AZLoop is champing at the bit for the next competition
“Our pod is fully functional and ready to go in that tube,” team co-lead Josh Kosar said. “Everything we have to do is tweaking.”
Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now
ASU designed a nozzle that turns a pressure vessel capable of producing 500 pounds of thrust into one that produces 5,000 pounds of thrust.
“It was actually kind of fun,” Kosar said. “We were aiming at 140 meters per second; this the max speed we can hit and still brake safely. Whereas a lot of the other teams around, the next highest speed we saw was aiming at 90 meters per second.”
Teams from 35 countries came to compete. The bar to bringing home a win was the fact that there was only one vacuum tube for competition, which took 30 to 45 minutes to depressurize and repressurize. Getting pods on and off the track was also time-consuming.
“At the end of the day, when it comes to getting into the hyperloop tube, there are only so many times they can do, especially in a vacuum environment, because it takes time to depressurize and repressurize the track,” Nethken explained.
Kyle Squires, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, praised the AZLoop's hard work.
“The team did an unbelievable job — going from essentially a standing start months ago to finishing near the top,” Squires said.
“What they created was indeed an engineering feat, and the passion, energy, drive and commitment put forth by everyone was amazing,” Squires said. “My hope is that this experience empowers and inspires these students and others to continue to push the limits on innovation.”
AZLoop is the only team with a test track and a vacuum chamber, giving them an edge in future. Their workspace and test track are at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.
“If they let us in there, we’d knock their socks off,” said Chris Kmetty, team adviser and an engineer with Markham Contracting, who built the test track. Kmetty is also an alumni, part of the Class of 1997.